Same-sex marriage stay to continue until US Supreme Court ruling, says Texas Supreme Court spokesperson

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Suzanne Bryant (left) and Sarah Goodfriend hold up their marriage license after a press conference on Thursday afternoon. They became the first same-sex couple to marry in Texas on Thursday morning.
Photo Credit: Mariana Munoz | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas Supreme Court’s stay on the state’s same-sex marriage ban may remain in effect until the expected Supreme Court ruling this summer, according to Osler McCarthy, staff attorney for public information at the Texas Supreme Court.

“Somebody is going to rule on this, and it’s the U.S. Supreme Court, definitively, in three months,” McCarthy said. “So what the court has done is say, ‘Stop. Nobody move.’”

On Thursday, Travis County Judge David Wahlberg issued a single marriage license to Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend. The two were granted the license and married, making them the first same-sex couple to marry in Texas.

The Texas Supreme Court issued a stay Thursday in response to a request by Attorney General Ken Paxton, halting all further same-sex marriages in the state. The stay did not include an end date, but it will presumably end with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this summer. 

Courts issuing a stay are not required to provide an end date, according UT law professor F. Scott McCown.

“[The stay] would just be [over] when the court made its decision,” McCown said. 

Paxton submitted a petition Friday to the Texas Supreme Court asking that the court overturn Wahlberg’s ruling, potentially voiding Bryant and Goodfriend’s marriage. 

The couple’s attorney, Chuck Herring, said in a previous interview that Paxton’s petition will not successfully end the marriage since the marriage has already occurred.

“We all know the U.S. Supreme Court is the court that is going to decide any remaining issues concerning the constitutionality of same-sex marriage prohibition,” Herring said.

While McCarthy does not know if the petition can revoke the marriage, he said he thinks Paxton’s filing not be successful. 

“I believe the Attorney General believes this petition would invalidate that marriage license,” McCarthy said. “I don’t know if his mandamus petition really goes that far.” 

There are no immediate legal ramifications with Paxton’s opposition to Bryant and Goodfriend’s marriage, McCarthy said. 

“Down the long term, maybe,” McCarthy said. “Let’s say one dies, and the other comes in and says, ‘I am the person who inherits from my spouse,’ and someone else jumps in and says this is not a valid marriage.”

Rogelio Meza, Queer Student Alliance co-director and microbiology junior, said he agrees with McCarthy’s assessment. He said he thinks Texas’ Supreme Court will not legalize same-sex marriage independently. He thinks the decision to permit same-sex marriage will depend on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer. 

“I’m very disappointed, yet, not surprised at Texas trying to stop same-sex marriage here in the state,” Meza said. “A couple already got married. Nothing happened. The world didn’t explode. I feel Texas is trying to hold on to that conservative ideal.” 

Marisa Kent, QSA co-director and marketing junior, said she was also not surprised by the ruling.

“It was a little frustrating because the ruling [allowing the marriage] was made for a specific reason, and for them to change the decision and say nothing is going to change until the U.S. Supreme Court makes a decision is frustrating,” Kent said. “It’s something that I knew the Texas government would do without any afterthought.”